For those that feel that they may have been hit by a penalty, Matt Cutts has released a video explaining the various responses that you can expect to receive. In the wake of the numerous Panda/Penguin updates, Google also released the disavow links tool (16th October 2012). As a result, the response time for a recon-request may have increased while webmasters purge their low-quality backlinks and disavow links they were unable to move.

The Video

According to Matt Cutts, users of the reconsideration request form should expect a response within “a week, or several days”. In some circumstances the backlog can be up to two months, but “that typically only happens when a new tool has been launched”.

The Responses

For those that haven’t had a chance to watch the video, Matt Cutts states that you should hear back with “roughly one of three different replies”

  • Yes – We think you’re in good shape, so your reconsideration request has been granted.
  • It might be No – We still think you have some work to do.
  • In some situations, you don’t have any sort of manual issue at all
  • We have processed your reconsideration request. Google can see that you’ve resolved some issues, but there are still outstanding problems that you need to take care of

Deciphering The Responses

No Manual Penalty

If you receive a response within 2-3 days, this is usually the “The no manual penalty e-mail”. Although this can be frustrating, it does rule out any manual action against your site

Yes

Congratulations, your reconsideration request has been approved. If your issue was backlink or penalty orientated then you can expect to see a recovery within the next week or so.

No

Unfortunately your reconsideration request has been denied. For sites that have been particularly over-zealous in link-building or simply purchasing spammy links, then you can expect this response. Unless of course you’ve been removing these links and have shown good will and exerted substantial effort to remove the offending issues.

You have resolved some issues, but there are still some outstanding problems

Perhaps the most frustrating of responses. Matt Cutts describes this response as “Sometimes you flip a coin, you don’t land on heads “yes”, or tails “no” you sort of get the very side of the coin. In that case you’ll get something that says “we have processed your reconsideration request”. What that means is there might have been multiple issues”.

I’m currently going through this process with a client that had links purchased for him, as well as purchasing a number of backlinks themselves.

As you can see, we’ve received the “processed” response in this instance. Even after removing 70%+ of the negative offending links. A secondary request went in the week after, once further offending links had been removed and the disavow tool had been used. I’ll update this thread once a second response has been received.

Help Submitting a Reconsideration Request

If you’re currently struggling and you believe you’ve been hit by a manual penalty there are a number of sites you can visit, that will give you pointers on how to form the perfect request.

Official Google Blog
How to submit a Google Reconsideration Request – Koozai
Types Of Google Reconsideration Requests Responses – SERoundTable
Reconsideration Request Form